Chronicles of MPT: Opera

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I’ve been a regular at Bedok South Hawker Cenre’s Opera for a long time. The auntie who took order would take one look at me and tell me my order immediately. It’s too bad she’s not there anymore, but the auntie who makes the noodles is still there.

What I love about this stall is how healthy and clean everything tastes. It’s not your usual fishball noodle nor bak chor mee. It’s invariably full of fresh ingredients like baby romaine lettuce (which other stall uses baby romain?), sprightly beansprouts and incredibly fat free minced pork. Coupled with homemade fried shallots, good chilli sauce and excellent vinegar,  the dry version is heavenly. I could eat here every day. In fact, I see lots of old-timers order their daily fix from this stall. (For the record, it’s not the one with the queue, I personally can’t see why people like the famous fishball stall with the long queue.)

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I also ask for extra vegetables for $0.50 more and they give me a much bigger bowl of soup plus extra fishballs and other ingredients. This is worth my while because it’s the only accompanying soup worth drinking. At other places I invariably leave the soup untouched because it’s just msg and water. Here, things are quite different and I always finish every drop of the soup. It’s fantastic.

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What’s not so great about it? The meatballs are only a notch above run of the mill and the meepok can sometimes be soggy. Go for the meekia or meesua, both the dry version. Both are excellent.

Opera
#01-175
Blk 16 Bedok South Road Hawker Centre

Chronicles of MPT: Balestier Road

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Here’s a place DC and I are divided on. Obviously I like it enough to blog about it. This is a strange sort of bak chor mee/Teochew mee pok tar hybrid. It’s got all pork balls, minced pork and dried sole, plus there’s seaweed in the soup. But it also has prawns and beansprouts, so it’s a bit of a confused dish.

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Here’s why we’re divided: the pork balls are run of the mill and the soup is but a notch above the usual dishwater. The chilli sauce is decent but nothing memorable. What I really liked was that the meepok was very well done. It was done perfectly chewy, neither soggy nor underdone. Perfect. I also liked the mushroom and dried sole always hits the spot for me. Thumbs up in my book!

Noi’s Mushroom Minced Meat Noodle
Teck Seng Coffeeshop
588 Jalan Datoh off Balestier Road

Chronicles of MPT: The One Next to Mustafa’s

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DC, a man after my own stomach, had been looking up MPT places as he was concerned about the recent lack of Chronicles of MPT posts. He found this place at Verdun Road that supposedly used buah keluak as one of the magic ingredients in its chilli sauce. Of course we had to find the next opportunity to go!

The stall is nestled in a coffee shop just by Mustafa’s, that emporium of everything you need in this world (except MPT). We ordered a bowl each, DC being a purist for my blog’s sake ordered meepok, while I on advice from some reports went for the meekia.

Each bowl came with a generous topping of fish dumplings, pork mince, sliced pork, fishball and a piece of crisp dried sole. I liked the gluey fish dumplings and didn’t mind the fishball. DC didn’t like the fishball though, he felt that it tasted too mass-produced. He was also pretty unlucky because his pork was undercooked and noodles soggy. For the former, he simply pushed the offending pink pieces away, but for the latter he had no choice but to slurp up the  soft pap. Why? The chilli was heavenly. I think it’s by far the best MPT chilli I’ve had. It was smoky with deep earthy buah keluak flavour and had plenty of kick. Complemented by the crisp lard pieces and a splash of black vinegar, this combination is to die for. Do yourself a favour and order the meekia. Mine was perfect. The best in a long while.

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Ah Hor Teochew Kway Teow Mee
12 Verdun Road

Chronicles of MPT: Tai Hwa Bak Chor Mee at Crawford Lane

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A friend introduced me to the bak chor mee at Crawford Lane. This is Tai Hwa, not to be confused with Tai Wah. Unlike Tai Wah, it is the only stall with no branches anywhere else.

We got there at 10.30 am and there was no queue at all. Apparently during the peak period, the queue would stretch the length of the coffeeshop. We were in luck!

This bak chor mee ($4 up) is probably the best all-rounder so far. The noodles were perfectly al dente, as was the balance of chilli and vinegar. I also really liked the thin slivers of deep-fried lard that delivered the highest crisp vs. calorie ratio. They were just the right size: thin enough to crunch nicely yet large enough to avoid once the guilt set in. The one piece of dried sole fish wasn’t enough and was slightly bland, but it’s a small quibble.

The sliced meat, minced meat, liver and pork ball were all spot on, tender and juicy. The only let down was the dumpling, which was too salty. My friend didn’t notice, so I guess it was just me being too sensitive. Either that the uncle didn’t mix the dumpling filling well.

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Wins: Best All-Rounder

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
Blk 466 Crawford Lane #01-12
Tel: 6292 7477

Chronicles of MPT: Bestway Bak Chor Mee

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Finally made it to the Bak Chor Mee at Bestway Building. We got there for a lateish lunch on Saturday afternoon. I was glad that we were spared the mythical 40-minute wait as there wasn’t much of a crowd this time. Everything else bar the drink stall was closed. Even though there were only two people ahead of us, our order took a while to arrive. The uncle takes his time with the noodles.

First up, I liked the taste of the noodles ($4 up) very much. The chilli was quite fragrant and the vinegar was very mellow. A bit more chilli and vinegar would have made it much better. There was plenty of dried sole fish and they were also generous with the toppings: mince meat, liver, dumplings and meatballs. The meatballs were also spiked with dried sole bits, giving extra oomph. I wasn’t too keen on the noodles. The meepok was too soft for my liking. I could tell on first sight that it was soft, didn’t even need to bite in to know. Try ordering their dumpling soup instead, it’s got all the good stuff and none of the overcooked noodles stuff. For noodles, Seng Kee is probably better.

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Verdict: I liked the taste and the toppings, but the noodles were bad.

Tai Wah Pork Noodle
Meeting Point Food Court
12 Prince Edward Road
#01-16 Bestway Building (TV12)
Mon-Sat 9 am to 3 pm
Tel: 9163 6228

Chronicles of MPT: Jalan Tua Kong Lau Lim Mee Pok (Simpang Bedok)

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I went for breakfast at Simpang Bedok and was surprised to find Jalan Tua Kong’s Lau Lim opened a stall here. The story goes like this: the old man running 132 originally set up at Jalan Tua Kong. He had a helper, Lau Lim, who learned the trade from him. The old man had to retire due to health reasons and let Lau Lim take over the Jalan Tua Kong stall. Later, the old man got better and started up 132 again at Kembangan, which then moved to its current location opposite the petrol station. Lau Lim, on the other hand, moved out of Jalan Tua Kong because the rents increased and someone else now dishes out mediocre stuff at the Jalan Tua Kong stall. Incidentally, the mee pok tah at the coffeeshop next to the monsoon drain at Siglap Centre is a pretender too. It used to be good but is now awful. Don’t bother.

Back to Lau Lim’s mee pok tah. I was pretty sceptical as my experience at 132 wasn’t the best. To be fair, I ordered the wrong thing, so I’ll just have to go back and try again. The one here, a $4 portion with normal chilli, was very excellent. Noodle-wise, it’s the best so far! Better than Joo Chiat Chiap Kee, though the chilli sauce there still wins. I liked the texture of the noodles and how the chilli and lard bits worked very well together. The prawns weren’t the freshest, though they were springy and almost crunchy. 132 wins for prawn freshness even though theirs aren’t that fresh either. The fishballs were quite typical. Nothing to complain about. But the soup was awful. Don’t bother. It tasted of msg and dishwater. Yuck.

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Jalan Tua Kong Lau Lim Mee Pok
308 Bedok Road (Simpang Bedok)
Bedok Shopping Complex

Chronicles of MPT: 132 Mee Poh Kueh Teow Mee

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My obsession with mee pok tah continues. I persuaded Eeyore to finally try the famous 132 Mee Poh Kueh Teow Mee along East Coast Road (from $3). Not wanting to be left out, Shinta and KK came along too. It was 12 noon on a Sunday and the wait wasn’t very long, only about 10 minutes. I think the MPT craze comes and goes when the newspapers write about them.

Eeyore and I made the fatal mistake of asking for extra chilli. The chilli overwhelmed the noodles, making them far too one-dimensional. This style was the chilli sauce and lard only type, no vinegar or other condiments. I’d imagine (heaven forbid!) a touch of ketchup would have helped it along. The noodles weren’t anything special, even slightly on the soft side.

Ingredients-wise, we weren’t impressed by the fishballs (KK: too much flour, too soft) nor the prawns. The prawns tasted fine, but the tails broke off in the shell. That’s my pet peeve and shows that the prawns aren’t very fresh. A pity. Shinta liked it all a lot though. He had no quibbles with it and thought it was one of the best MPT of this style he’d had.

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What really worked for me was the soup. It’s fresh and full of flavour, very pleasing and soothing. Nice.

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I wasn’t expecting to get good teh bing (iced milky tea, $1) here but this place gave me a pleasant surprise. It was smooth and milky yet with great tea flavour.

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While waiting for their noodles, Shinta and KK ate three of these mackeral otah between them. It was pretty good with chunky fish and spicy, coconutty, smooth custard. Good stuff.

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132 Mee Poh Kueh Teow Mee
53 Upper East Coast Road (Opp the DBS and Shell station)

Chronicles of MPT: Joo Chiat Chiap Kee

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Joo Chiat Chiap Kee is great for meepok tah. It’s at the flower market at Bedok Central, also known as Bedok North hawker centre (though there are loads of hawker centres at Bedok North). It’s the one further down NTUC, towards ShopnSave.

This place usually has a queue which moves very fast. It’s a family business and run pretty efficiently. They also sell raw fishballs for takeaways ($1 for 7).

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The best part of the MPT here lies in the sauce. The noodles, which are average, take in the spicy chilli, belachan, and whatever other secret ingredients very well. The now-rare addition of taugeh (beansprouts) add crunch and freshness to the dish. I always finish my noodles first here, the combination is that good.

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This place is very generous with their fishballs. The $2.50 serving comes with five fishballs and one meatball. Count for yourself. The fishballs are homemade and very fresh. I like the fishy flavour and good bounce. The only downside is the very slight whiff of ammonia, probably added to give more bounce. The meatballs are pretty meaty and don’t have too much flour.

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All things considered, this isn’t perfect but is my current favourite place.

Joo Chiat Chiap Kee
#01-31
Bedok North Hawker Centre
Closed Wednesdays

Chronicles of MPT: Seng Kee Mushroom Minced Pork Noodles

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I’m the biggest fan of meepok tah, whether fishball or bak chor flavour. It’s my default if I can’t decide what to eat at the hawker centre.

Since Mum and I were in the area, we dropped by Seng Kee Mushroom Minced Pork Noodles at Eunos to check out the hype. The smallest bowl of bak chor mee cost $4 and was slightly smaller than the typical $3.50 food court bak chor mee.

The sauce was good. I could tell that the mushrooms were stewed for ages to get out all that yummy mushroom flavour. The chilli was decent though I’d like it to be much hotter than this. Making this extra delicious were the tiny bits of fried lard that added crunch and sinfully good oily porkiness. If I’d never tried bak chor mee before, this would be pretty darn It. The missing ingredient was good ol’ black vinegar. A generous dash of that would take it straight to heaven.

Noodles-wise, it was only OK. While the noodles were the better thicker variety, they were too soft and needed either vinegar or a change to fresh blanching water. The beansprouts were a nice touch for adding crunch. I love beansprouts in my MPT. The fish dumpling was decent, though my mum got one with the filling missing!

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The soup was quite something. As the bowl was set down, I could already smell it! Check out how much stuff has been boiled in it in the picture below. It’s sweet with pork and soy beans, deeply savoury from the dried sole (that’s where the smell came from) and redolent of chinese herbs like wolfberry. I liked it but my mum found it too rich.

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Notwithstanding the tiny dried scallops sprinkled generously over the vegetables, we found the $4 dish overpriced. There were only about three heads of xiao bai cai on the plate, topped with two bland mushroom halves. The sauce was rich and full of seafood flavour and the dried scallops rather tasty. Still, I couldn’t help feeling cheated because all I really wanted was enough vegetable to balance out my meal.

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Verdict? While it certainly is better than the average bak chor mee, the difference in quality isn’t that great. Go there only if you’re in the area.

Seng Kee Mushroom Minced Pork Noodles
316 Changi Road
Tel: 6345 7561